The Texas Senate Education Committee this morning approved Senate Bill 521, a measure that — if passed by the Legislature — would undermine the ability of school districts across the state to offer sex education. We reported about the Senate hearing on SB 521 last week here. Click here for a fact sheet on SB 521. The Texas Freedom Network released the following statement from TFN President Kathy Miller:
“In their eagerness to drag our public schools into the abortion wars, committee members passed a bill with unnecessary, overly bureaucratic mandates that could lead many school districts to stop teaching sex education altogether in a state with the fourth-highest teen birth rate in the nation,” Miller said. “If legislators really want to stop abortions in Texas, then they should stop making it harder for school districts to teach students responsible sex education that helps keep them from getting pregnant in the first place.”
Committee members focused on the bill’s provision barring anyone affiliated with an abortion provider from offering sex education instruction. But SB 521 also imposes detailed requirements for obtaining parental permission before allowing a student to participate in sex education instruction provided by any outside individual or entity not employed by the district. Such requirements would make offering sex education needlessly burdensome for hundreds of Texas school districts. Public health experts say they would also make it more likely that students will not participate in sex education classes that are offered.
Moreover, these new requirements are unnecessary. Existing state law already requires school districts to notify parents in writing about the content of sex education, their right to keep their child out of such classes, their right to review instructional materials, and their right to participate in a School Health Advisory Council that advises the district on sex education and other policies related to sex education.